I received this book for free from Paper Lantern Lit in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
Published by The Studio on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Paper Lantern Lit
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In this heartwarming debut by HelloGiggles blogger Kerry Winfrey, a young agoraphobe begins a journey of first love that leads her to the true meaning of home—just by taking one small step outside of her house.
My name is Mallory Sullivan.
My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.
My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”
Everybody else says I'm a freak.
And they kind of have a point, because I haven't left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.
But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.
First, I have to leave my room.
Love and Other Alien Experiences is about an agoraphobic girl named Mallory. Ever since her dad up and left, she’s never left. She attends high school via webcam and spends her spare time nerding out on New Mexico’s alien message board. Mallory can’t accept that her dad left without a reason so she embarks on a mission to attend a bird watcher’s event so she can track him down and demand to know why. To do that, she needs money and when Mallory is unexpectedly nominated for homecoming court the plan to defy the odds and win begins because the prize for winning queen can get her one step closer to her dad.
I feel like there’s been a big push for diverse YA especially those featuring mental illness. Love and Other Alien Experiences is definitely considered on of these diverse books but while it does focus on mental illness it is different from other books of its kind in the fact that Love and Other Alien Experience is more spirited and not as serious. I think this has a lot to do with Mallory’s personality and the way she handles her agoraphobia. At this point she’s accepted that something’s wrong with her and yeah she should probably do something about it. The motivation she has to find her dad pushes her to overcome her agoraphobia so this book is really about Mallory herself deciding to overcome her struggles and not necessarily anyone else forcing her to do it. This was a nice change from some recent YAs featuring mental illnesses that I’ve read.
Mallory is a wonderful character. I felt so in key with her on so many levels. I may not be agoraphobic but I know there are an endless number of times where I’d much rather stay inside and read a book or relax instead of going out with people. One great thing about Mallory is that she’s pretty funny. She’s got a stark and sarcastic sort of personality which makes some of her inner dialogue hilarious. I have no doubt that Mallory is my sort of person. She’s so strong and dedicated and surprisingly willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants.
The love interest for Love and Other Experiences is so freaking sweet and epic. I won’t name names because I don’t want to ruin anything but he is perfect for Mallory. He gets what it’s like to be her, living with anxiety himself, and he’s so protective of her. There are more than a few adorable scenes where he helps Mallory get through a panic attack and it’s just so adorable. Sweetness aside, the love interest was predictable. In the book there’s this big reveal and it’s supposed to be shocking and maybe it is to Mallory but I saw it coming from a mile away.
I think that the greatest thing about Love and Other Alien Experiences is that at the end of the book Mallory talks about how she’s okay today and she’s here. She doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring and she’s far from being cured, but today she is happy where she is. I think this is insanely important and am glad it was addressed because anxiety and other mental illnesses and disorders aren’t something that can be cured overnight. You have to work at it and you will have good days and you will have bad.
“I guess what I figured out is that we all have things we’re afraid of. And that’s okay. But it’s what you do with your fear that really sets you apart. Do you let it force you into hiding? Or do you face it, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts? I’m not going to act like I have all the answers, but I do know that the past month has been one of the best ones of my life, even though this past year has been the worst.”
Review in Review:
I really liked Love and Other Alien Experiences. It was a less serious, more lighthearted mental illness YA. It has a romance that will make you swoon and an amazing main character who undergoes a transformation that is very real and admirable. The best part is that this book makes a point that everything turned out okay for Mallory, but mental illness isn’t a one and done type of thing. She may be okay today but her journey is far from over. If you were a fan of Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone or Made You Up by Francesca Zappia I recommend Love and Other Alien Experiences. It features similar touchy subjects but with more happy and fun.